This last Saturday was the first Extra Life Ministries Bible Study. We’re off to a good start.
We spent about forty minutes talking about — as you may have caught in the title — why the cross is the most epic thing ever. I’ve posted my notes below, after the link to the recording.
After the study, we shared some lunch and hung out. I can heartily recommend Safeway-brand frozen lasagna, by the way.
Plans are already underway for next month’s study. We’re gonna try to have it in a local comic book shop. The lesson, I’m thinking, is gonna be about how holiness is practically a superpower. More details to come.
Until then, thank you so much to everyone who came on Saturday, and everyone else who follows XLM as it develops into what God made it to be. Here’s our first Bible study.
Why the Cross is the Most Epic Thing Ever (.mp3)
We say things all the time like “Jesus died for your sins.” We call Him the “lamb of God.” We sing songs like “The Wonderful Cross.” All of Christianity seems focused around this one event: the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. It’s a big deal. And today, I want to talk about why.
The name Good Friday bothered me for a while after I learned what it was all about. It offended my sensibilities to call such a horrendous day “good.”
Today, Christians commemorate the death of Jesus on the cross. To be blunt, we remember the day humanity murdered God. And not in a swift, sanitary, humane way, either. Crucifixion is absolutely horrific. It’s a nightmarish way to kill someone. And we inflicted it on the only truly good man ever to live.
For a long time, I was preoccupied by our guilt. I focused on our sins, our actions that sent Jesus to the cross.
Then, I saw something else.
Jesus didn’t want to go to the cross. Not at all. He prayed not to go. But He was ready to do it if it were the only way. Soon after that prayer, armed men came to arrest Him. Peter, one of His closest followers, tried to take of the guys’ heads off with his sword.
Jesus stopped him and healed the man Peter had attacked.
Think about that. He had just begged His Father to let Him skip the cross. One of His followers then attacked His captors. A lesser man would have run. But Jesus apparently had His answer.
He went willingly.
Even when the men who had Him arrested taunted Him, challenging Him to get off the cross and prove that He was the Messiah, He stayed. Mind you, He could have blasted the cross to splinters with his mind and called down lightning on all the unbelievers. He didn’t.
That’s the “good” of Good Friday: that Jesus chose the cross for us.
We live in a culture that avoids discomfort at all costs. We see boredom, inconvenience, and pain as great evils. I don’t want that perspective.
For the past several years, I’ve fasted from the evening of Good Friday until Easter Sunday. This year, I’ll do the same, but I’ll be thinking about it differently. Before, I would think about the weight of our sin every time my stomach growled.
This year, it will be less for guilt and more for worship.
This year, the discomfort will be a reminder to say “thank you” to the God who paid the cost of mercy.
It’s Easter this Sunday. You know what that means: church and chocolate. Probably brunch with the family. Gotta find a clean shirt. Gotta get up early for a weekend.
When I was growing up, Easter seemed like a seriously random holiday. I could get on board with Halloween and Christmas, but I didn’t really get Easter. I was glad for the Cadbury Cream Eggs – oh, so glad! – and the chance to see my cousins, but I couldn’t tell you the point of it.
When I became a Christian, Easter was all new. And it was the best thing ever. It wasn’t just another holiday anymore.
It was a celebration of my reason to live.
The story of Easter is that God came to Earth and sacrificed His life to restore the relationship we broke with Him. Then, He beat up death and came back.
Forget the bunny. If all that is true, it changes everything.
If Jesus was willing to forgive us, even as we killed Him, we don’t have to worry about being loved: we are. If Jesus really is God and really is the one true authority, we don’t have to worry about purpose: it’s to follow Him. If Jesus actually paid for our sins and rose from the dead, we don’t have to worry about eternity: He’s taken care of it.
That’s worth celebrating.
Several people at Crossroads will be celebrating Easter as Christians for the first time. I’m excited for them. It’s a fantastic experience.
If you want, join us this Sunday and see what it’s all about. We’d be glad to have you there.